A jury has convicted a Columbia man of voluntary manslaughter – but not murder–in the death of a Charlotte woman he once dated.
After deliberating for 10 hours, a Richland County jury found Theodore Manning, 30, guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Charlotte airline worker Nikki McPhatter in May 2009. A judge sentenced him to the maximum 30 years in prison.
During his trial, Manning admitted to the jury that he killed McPhatter, 30. He also admitted to stuffing her body into the trunk of her car and driving to Fairfield County, where he doused the car in gasoline and set it on fire. Manning told the jury that although he shot and killed McPhatter, it happened during a quarrel and that he never meant to do it.
Prosecutors tried to convince the jury that the treatment of McPhatter’s body and Manning’s attempted cover-up were enough to convict him of murder. The jury began deliberating Wednesday, did not reach a verdict until Thursday afternoon. In a report by The State newspaper, the jury requested that Judge Thomas Cooper read to them the definitions of “murder,” “voluntary manslaughter,” and “malice.”
Manning met McPhatter online and the two had been in a relationship. Prosecutors said Manning killed McPhatter at his Bluff Road home after she drove there to break up with him. They also said Manning used McPhatter’s ATM card to empty her bank account after her death.